Seeking a visual calendar of perennial bloom times
May 23, 2019 6:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a visual calendar, that is photos in chronological order, of what blooms each month in my zone (zone 5/6). Like an Instagram feed or calendar populated with images at the general bloom time of all the plants I might reasonably grow in my area.

I've found monthly guides for when to plant things.
I've found guides for what to do in my garden each month.
I've found monthly (and weekly!) bloom lists for various museum grounds and botanic gardens but they're not in my zone and there are no photos.
I found this very cool "status of spring."

This infographic (scroll down) of what blooms when is close but only lists 16 flowers and is frankly harder to understand than photos would be.

This list of perennials by season from Better Homes & Gardens has a lot plants and gets as specific as early spring, late spring, early summer, late summer, but it doesn't have photos of each plant nor is it really for my zone.

White Flower Farms displays photos of all perennials by zone (hallelujah!), but not by month of bloom.

Does what I'm looking for exist?
posted by cocoagirl to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If it doesn’t exist, you can totally create it and it would be a fun project. I’ve thought about doing this: visit your local nursery every couple of weeks for the next year and take photos of each plant in bloom, with the accompanying tags. By the end of the year you will have an amazing reference you can share with others in your region.
posted by oxisos at 7:18 AM on May 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

Stuff in pots at nurseries blooms at different times than established plants planted in the ground in real context.

The reason that the good guide only specifies early/late spring is because in most cases that’s all the reliability you can get. The same plant can bloom a few weeks earlier at a house around the corner. The same plant can bloom a week later one spring compared to the next. Plant A may break buds before plant B most years, but sometimes B goes ahead. Many plants alter bloom date based on age, almost all plants alter bloom date based on light, and when light depends on variable leaf-out of the tree canopy, complex interactions happen. Then of course degree days and late frosts can change things around too, and this is all variability that will occur within a few mile radius over a few years.

TLDR: plant phenology is amazingly complex; any guide that gives a specific time of bloom won’t be that reliable, this is why early/late season is the level of detail usually given.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:38 AM on May 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: >any guide that gives a specific time of bloom won’t be that reliable, this is why early/late season is the level of detail usually given.

I would take that. Can you point me in the direction of the resource you're talking about that goes down to that level? "Early spring, late spring, early summer, late summer" etc. is fine if it also uses photos and has the ability to filter by zone.
posted by cocoagirl at 1:33 PM on May 23, 2019

Best answer: While it's not completely comprehensive,'s Plant Finder tool has the ability to filter by season, zone, light, color, and type, and provides pictures of what your query produces.

This answer is one I'm popping in here with only because you haven't received much else. Would you consider another resource, which is a gardening book specifically written for your region? A quick visit to the library can expose you to what's available for your area. Many such books not only have what you're looking for - usually broken down in a month by month or early spring, late summer, etc., format - but since they are written for the region in mind can suggest perennials that work well with local soil types, local climate, watering needs and/or restrictions, elevation, wildlife, etc., and thus are much more comprehensive about plants that work in the area that just a simple zone designation would be. (For example, I'm in the same zone you are but require more xeric plants as well as plants that can work at 5,500 feet in heavy clay and alkaline soils.) Often they might even have some designs for inspiration and/or use.
posted by barchan at 4:01 PM on May 23, 2019

Response by poster: Bingo, that plant finder tool is very helpful. Photos, zones, seasonal breakdown - thank you! (And yes I will explore some books but I find gardening books not as exhaustive plant-wise as digital media because of the cost of color printing.)
posted by cocoagirl at 4:52 PM on May 23, 2019

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